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Dynamic duo opens Bradford’s first bubble-tea shop

In this week’s What’s Up Wednesday, we stop by Uni Bubble Tea in the West Park Plaza

Bradford West Gwillimbury’s first bubble tea shop, Uni Bubble Tea, is now open for business.

Owners and friends, Cindy Wang and Lucy Shen, were tired of travelling to Markham and Newmarket to get their bubble tea fix and decided to open their own store in their own town.

“(We) hope our Uni Bubble Tea would be one of many unique places in Bradford.”

Wang has lived in the area for six years and Shen moved to Bradford from Richmond Hill just two years ago. They both enjoy living in the town and said their business name Uni, which means, “I have you, because of you” in Mandarin, is a representation of their relationship with Bradford.

“Our slogan is because of you, because of Bradford people here, we are here,” said Shen.

Uni Bubble Tea is in its soft opening phase, offering only drinks, with plans to offer food options in the near future. Their extensive drink menu offers a variety of options from flavoured teas, to ice cold slushies.

There are two signature drinks the duo said they are proud to offer: The Uni Black Pearl and the Uni Fruit Tea.

The Uni Black Pearl drink is made with brown sugar tapioca and fresh milk. Shen said the tapioca balls, also known as “pearls,” are cooked for about an hour to make them taste sweet.

The Uni Fruit Tea is made with green tea, and apple and orange slices.

Shen’s husband, Jerry Zhang, used to work in a bubble tea shop and is currently the store manager; his experience and expertise has been a great resource for the business.

When you enter the shop, you notice right away the brightly coloured blue walls and the unique décor pieces on the walls, including a large chalkboard at the back. Zhang set up the chalkboard to list all the featured drinks, but also as a space for customers to write on.

“The idea is, we are trying to let all the students express their ideas or feelings, and it’s kind of our feature wall over here,” said Shen.

Since its soft opening in April, Shen said a lot of the customers have been students from the high schools nearby, as well as customers from local businesses.

“We didn’t expect it to be so popular, but luckily people really enjoy it,” she said.

Shen and Wang obtained the lease for the store in September 2018 and have been working hard behind the scenes to make the shop an enjoyable, comfortable space for their customers.

“We did all the permit, renovation and decorations from scratch. It almost took us six months to complete,” explained Shen.

With two small kids, Shen said opening a new business can be challenging.

“I have to drop them off at school, come here, open, and on the weekend actually my kids are here… They help me a little bit,” she said.

Shen and Wang hope that Uni Bubble Tea will be a success in Bradford and hope to franchise the business within a year once they are established.

“Here’s our first place (in Bradford). We are trying to be the best before we move on,” she said.

Shen said she wants the Bradford store to be a hotspot for people to stop on their way up north to the cottage.

“So when people pass by Bradford they will know, ‘OK, we have to go to Uni Bubble Tea,’” she said. “We are here because we love drinks. And we love food. And we are here to offer Bradford people to enjoy bubble tea, and we really hope people will like us.”

The grand opening for Uni Bubble Tea is May 16, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2 p.m. Shen is excited because in the Chinese calendar, May 16 is a good day for a business grand opening.

“May 16 is a lucky day,” she said.

Uni Bubble Tea is located in the West Park Plaza and open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. To check out the menu options, visit the website


Natasha Philpott

About the Author: Natasha Philpott

Natasha is BradfordToday's Community Editor. She graduated from the Media Studies program at The University of Guelph-Humber. She lives in Bradford with her husband, two boys and two cats
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